Producer Mannie Fresh Presses Rewind on Juvenile’s Second Studio Album Solja Rags, circa 1997.
“Everybody always wanna talk about 400 Degreez or Mind of Mannie Fresh… 400 Degreez has a mainstream following but Mind of Mannie Fresh has got a cult following, which is funny. I was just nuts at the time and that’s what happens when you let a producer in the studio without nobody to tell him he ain’t got no limits and I just kind of went crazy on it, it’s got like 32 tracks [laughs]. And the cool thing is, it came out alright. It was just me being me, just wanting to not take things so serious and have fun. And I’m not gonna lie, at the time of doing that album I felt like everybody was too gangsta anyway. I still feel that way, like why isn’t anybody having fun on these records? [laughs] But yeah, I’ve been thinking about Juve’s Solja Rags album lately, it kinda set up 400 Degreez. But what was so cool about Solja Rags is it kinda brought everyone together as a team. It gave Cash Money a sense of teamwork, like everybody put they own input in on doing this album… B.G. wrote parts, I wrote parts, Baby had stuff to do with it, all the little characters I created, the skits, all of that came together on that album and was all there when we started doing things bigger and better. It really was the foundation for all the things that would come in the years after, 400 Degreez and all the rest. And the whole city still know Ziggy [Ziggly Wiggly & Bulletproof] from doing skits on that album [laughs]. I did a lot of new things on Solja Rags. It was a rap album as opposed to a bounce album, which is what Cash Money had been doing up until that time. The first generation of Cash Money was all bounce records, so Solja Rags was one of the first rap albums that Cash Money ever made. And when Juvenile came, that just kinda turned the format to ‘it’s time to try rap beats instead of bounce beats.’ I was living in the 9th Ward at the time cutting up cars [laughs]. I was trading car parts. Like if you had a Cutlass and needed a fender, I knew where to get you one, or a specific bumper or whatever you needed.
And the cool thing about it, when that album came out, it made me sure that this is what I wanted to do. That I could do it. For a full-time job. And I decided it was time for all the side gigs to end. Making the album, there were some funny things about it. [Juve] had no idea at the time about counting bars or whatever, it was a challenge because he might have 13 bars and I was like, okay we need to do something to make this an even number [laughs]. But he had no idea about structuring songs so even that, that record taught him the whole structure of how a song is put together. But the thing I remember most is how the city embraced that album. The lead track ‘Solja Rag’ was so big it was crazy. Like I remember the first time we went to Houston with that record we were like, man, we are on to something. Because it was so big in New Orleans, but what meant even more to us was that it was poppin’ outside the city. People in Houston knew all the words. It was just like, wow, they really know all the words to this whole song. It was real cool. To me, Solja Rags will always be one of my favorite records that I’ve done.”